Cincinnati Zoo Taps Into Solar Energy

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, an internationally recognised haven for exotic plant and animal species, is hoping to draw crowds with its latest attraction when it becomes home to America’s largest publicly accessible urban solar panel array.

A 1.64 megawatt (MW) PV based solar energy system comprising 6,400 solar panels will make up a canopy that will also provide shade for the zoo’s 1000-space parking lot. The solar canopy will generate enough electricity to power 200 homes per year.

When completed, Mark Fisher, Senior Director of Planning and Sustainability at the Cincinnati Zoo hopes the new solar power system will supply 20 percent of the zoo’s energy needs when running at full capacity, although there will be many days when the Zoo will be off the electricity grid and feeding energy back into the network.

“We believe that the combination of size and public accessibility, makes this solar array the most impactful array of any in the entire country,” he said.

America’s greenest zoo said they will save millions of dollars in electricity bills each year over the life of the project. They hope that by installing the massive solar array they will put renewable energy on show, exposing the public to the value of solar energy.

“Nowhere else has an array of this magnitude been placed in such an urban environment, allowing our visitors, and the general public at large, to be able to see firsthand what solar photovoltaic energy is all about. The education potential of this advanced energy project is off the charts,” Mr Fisher said.

Green energy projects developer, Melink Corporation, will install the 6,400 solar panels. Construction has begun and the project should be supplying the Zoo with clean solar power generated electricity by April.